Day 2 - Two communities touched
Renewed Hope Trust at Shrewsbury Chapel: A Beacon of Support for the vulnerable
Nestled among Victorian terraces and modern homes in Redhill, the historic Shrewsbury Chapel has emerged as a pivotal centre for their local community. The chapel, with over 200 years of history has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis in recent years, becoming a sanctuary for the needy under the Gatwick flight path.
In a forward-thinking move back in 2015, Shrewsbury Chapel’s trustees recognised the importance of collaboration and inclusivity within the Christian community. Entrusting Church Growth Trust (CGT) with the Trusteeship of the building, this decision paved the way for a new partnership with Renewed Hope Trust, led by John Bartlett.
Renewed Hope Trust, through a unique lease agreement facilitated by CGT, seized the opportunity to convert the chapel into a haven for those in need. Renovation works helped Shrewsbury Chapel develop into a welcoming refuge, providing vital day support for the homeless, vulnerable, and isolated members of society.
This included essential facilities, including a wet room, a new kitchen, and an office. This transformation has allowed the team to offer warm meals, shelter, and assistance to individuals struggling with homelessness and isolation.
Renewed Hope Trust has served over 4,500 meals to 250 individuals, with 105 of them finding solace as homeless guests. Sadly, the demand for their services continues to increase, emphasising the critical role played by the chapel in the area.
As the winter night shelters, paused due to the pandemic, resume operations, Shrewsbury Chapel be hosting one of these shelters, one night a week. Renewed Hope Trust’s commitment remains unwavering. Christmas Day will witness a traditional lunch for 30 regulars.
Renewed Hope Trust at Shrewsbury Chapel stands tall as a testament to community resilience, unwavering in its mission to offer not just meals and shelter but, more importantly, a beacon of hope and support for the vulnerable in Redhill.
Embracing Community – Open Heaven Church in Wednesbury
Since 2019, the partnership between Church Growth Trust (CGT) and Open Heaven has opened doors for meaningful outreach, starting with the lease of Price Road Gospel Hall. At the heart of Open Heaven lies their food pantry service, providing essential food items to individuals and families facing hardships. Their dedicated team has been reaching out to not just feed but also consistently offering prayer.
“It can be easy to dismiss the impact of community social work and feel that it is not growing the church but at the food pantry, we have offered prayer consistently from the first day,” notes Pastor Nicola. “At first, people who came in with health issues or worries would decline prayer, but over time, many have accepted, and we’ve seen numerous answers to prayer.” She recalls a recent pantry session where unexpected progress unfolded. “One of the leaders started to pray for someone, and two other people who don’t usually attend church got up, placed their hands on the person, and joined in prayer. These two individuals were initially against prayer when they first started coming. It’s surprising progress that we, as a church, hadn’t fully realised.”
Beyond the pantry, Open Heaven is working to empower the community with initiatives like training local volunteers as Money Coaches to help improve financial literacy and long-term stability.
Their recent community event during the Christmas lights switch-on community event drew over 1000 attendees, illustrating the church’s welcoming nature. Additionally, their involvement in activities such as Operation Christmas Child and support for domestic violence survivors showcases their holistic approach to serving others. They are also collaborating with other churches in the area with a joint Alpha course. Looking ahead, Open Heaven eagerly anticipates a baptism service in January, marking a milestone in their journey.
The story of Open Heaven Church in Wednesbury exemplifies the impact a community-centred approach can have. Through their commitment to service and prayer, they continue to sow seeds of hope and support within their community, setting an encouraging example for other independent evangelical churches seeking to make a difference.